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New study: ‘Super heat waves’ of 131°F coming if global warming continues unchecked

Temperatures in the Middle East are already soaring past 120°F, while a heat wave named “Lucifer” scorches Europe.

High temperatures have fueled wildfires in France. CREDIT: AP/Claude Paris

In Europe, the recent heat wave was so extreme — with temperatures reaching 111°F (44°C), fueling wildfires and wasp attacks — it was nicknamed “Lucifer.” In the Middle East, as temperatures soared to 121°F (50°C), “birds in Kuwait have reportedly been dropping from the sky,” the International Business Times reportedFriday.

But, new research says, we ain’t seen nothing yet. A new study by the Joint Research Centre (JRC), the European Union’s science and research lab, finds that“if global temperatures rise with 4°C [7°F], a new super heat wave of 55°C [131°F] can hit regularly many parts of the world, including Europe” and the United States.

The study looks at “humid heat waves at different warming levels” up to 4°C. A 4°C rise is what we would expect if the Trump administration’s sweeping reversal of climate policies continue to prevail, and both domestic and global climate action are undermined.

The reason for looking at the combined effect of heat and humidity is that “warm air combined with high humidity can be very dangerous as it prevents the human body from cooling down through sweating, leading to hyperthermia.” This combination, measured by the heat index or apparent temperature, is very dangerous to humans (and other living things), as the chart below, from the National Weather Service, describes.